Jesse Marsch insisted that the next big step for Leeds United on their journey under his coaching is to have better control of the tempo of matches.
The American manager was speaking after the Whites drew 1-1 with Southampton, despite taking the lead. Jack Harrison opened the scoring at Elland Road, but a trademark James Ward-Prowse free-kick claimed the visitors a point.
Southampton in fact had more shots on goal but only two more attempts. Indeed, either side could have won, but it is a positive point for Leeds.
They are now unbeaten in three matches, their joint-longest run in the Premier League this season.
What’s more, their latest point moved them eight points clear of the relegation zone, helped by defeats to Watford and Burnley.
As a result, Marsch insisted that he is looking to take Leeds to the next step by seeing them control the tempo of games in the hope of edging out more wins.
Asked in his post-match press conference how he can control Leeds’ frantic style of play – embedded by previous manager Marcelo Bielsa – Marsch said: “By going from 100 per cent to 70 per cent.
“It means in some moments we want them to slow down, not always physically, but in their heads, to have the poise to have the next play.
“Fans here don’t want to see that. They want 100 per cent to 150 per cent. Illan [Meslier] catches the ball and the fans want him to play immediately.
“Every time you lose the ball Southampton play vertical and long. Any time you don’t have that rhythm you’re running backwards. This style we will always create chances, but if we could slow ourselves down and find a way to make the last pass… Crisper and cleaner would mean more goals.”
Marsch is expecting expect midfielder Kalvin Phillips to play a key role in taking his team to the next level.
The England star came on as a second-half substitute against Southampton for his first appearance since December following injury.
Marsch hails Kalvin Phillips influence
“He’s fantastic, you can see his quality and poise,” Marsch said.
“Kalvin was a big part of us pushing in the last 15 minutes. He settled things down for us and kept pushing him to be better at counter-pressing.
“It takes some time, but it’s more than a cameo, it was the performance we needed. We know what he means to the group, he’s Leeds through and through – the way he plays and handles himself.
Kalvin Phillips is happy to extend Leeds contract
Provided that Leeds stay up, Kalvin Phillips is reportedly happy to extend his contract at Leeds United.
“It’s a big moment for us to get him back and closer to full fitness. He has a big possibility from the start next weekend. I’m sure Gareth [Southgate] saw he was back today, his work ethic and professionalism, desire is fantastic. He is a pleasure to work with.
“The goal is to push him and make him more intense, expand his role from a leadership perspective. He does that and we are going to see him better and better.”
Leeds return to action against Watford next Saturday.